The list madness continues! First, we shared with you our editors’ picks for 2013. Then our most excellent ambassadors weighed in. Now we present the picks from our esteemed contributing writers. If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to make these destinations the basis of your 2013 bucket list. And, look for further recommendations next week from our Travel Advisory Committee.
It’s the most epic site that Ancient Britain has to offer, the mystic center of all things druidical. And this year you’ll be able to experience it as never before: thanks to a multimillion pound restoration project which included greening over a nearby highway and returning its surroundings to nature, the prehistoric stones will finally be seen as they were when they were erected, 2,500 years ago. I plan a tranquil early morning visit to get in touch with my inner pagan. —Emma John, who, with her fiddle, became part of the tight-knit bluegrass community in North Carolina in “Playing by Heart.”
Sprawling, chaotic, and difficult megacities—places like Kinshasa and Sao Paulo—hold a particular fascination for me. The world leader in this category is Lagos, a city that’s uncountably large, incredibly congested, and seemingly indecipherable. Even for a person who loves big cities, Lagos seems the ultimate hard-to-love megalopolis. I’m excited to see if I can stand traffic jams that make a trip across town into a day-long excursion, resist the wiles of world-famous con artists—and, along the way, tease out some of the distinctive pleasures and possibilities that surely must exist even in such a challenging urban environment. —Tom Downey, who explored the family-run ateliers of Naples in “Tailor-Made in Naples.”
The place I’m most excited about for 2013 is the Faroe Islands. I’ve always been drawn to isolated places, and it doesn’t get much more isolated than middle of the Norwegian Sea. A journalist friend who has been a few times and stayed with a family there tells of their young daughter, who is learning to play the violin, having to take lessons via Skype—there’s apparently no one on the island to teach her. The food sounds fascinating: a hardcore Nordic that makes Noma look like it’s turning out fusion cuisine. And the landscape—all those fjords and mountains!—looks to be beyond spectacular. —Lisa Abend, who got in deep with the revelers at Pamplona’s San Fermín festival in “Spain Lets Loose.”
Your first time in Sarajevo, you’re simply pulled into the war. You wander the gorgeous, moody streets acquainting yourself with the astounding saga of the siege, dumbstruck to have found a physical embodiment of life’s beauty and horror, its darkest humor, its incomprehensible absurdity. The second time—I suspect—you discover all the ways Sarajevo’s also none of those things. I’m excited to return to Bosnia to have a non-war-tourism experience of the place. —Chris Colin, who wrote “The Great Escape,” about experiencing a Caribbean paradise from both sides of a resort’s walls.
AFAR asked me to pick just one place I want to go to in 2013. Impossible. In a couple weeks I’ll be fulfilling one travel dream by going to Varanasi on an AFAR assignment and I know I’ll be back in the Italian hill town of Calcata for the month of June filming a documentary about my book. But other places I want to go? Ukraine, Lebanon, and Sicily come to mind. But if I have to pick just one, I’ll go with Iran. I’ve been fascinated with Iran for a long time and the Iranian people I’ve had the fortune to know have been lovely. —David Farley, who asserted that Prague is Europe’s next great food destination in “The New Bohemia.”
Have you been to any of these places? Post a Highlight!
Photo: Catherine Debelle, AFAR.com